Production an all round success

Fiddler on The Roof, Renaissance Theatre Company, Phoenix Venue, April 11 to 13. Review by Robert Dyer.

I was not sure what to expect with my first experience of theatre “in the round” as advertised for this production and so was pleasantly surprised and impressed to see the Phoenix Venue ballroom transformed into a farmyard, with hay bales scattered around and cows mooing and sheep baa’ing.

As the audience took their seats the performance area was surrounded on three sides and I immediately felt part of the action, up close and ‘intimate’ as promised.

The use of the table in each scene was cleverly implemented and the projections at the back subtly emphasised the mood and location.

As the show began, the performers entered one by one, children first, taking their places until Tevye the milkman and father of five daughters arrived and captured the audience from his first words and stage presence.

Words cannot really express the performance Dave ‘Welly’ Wellman gave with the multitude of subtle expressions, tones, dynamics and delicate comedy throughout the show.

The impact of If I were a Rich Man with the underplayed “biddy biddy bum” interjections sung with a sparkle in his eyes I think will stay with everyone who was there, every time they hear the song in future.

I could go on but “On the other hand…”

This was however not a one man show by any means, though the high quality of performances all round make it difficult to single out anyone else without mentioning the whole company.

Apart from the odd glitch the show equalled any professional production and the full house illustrated the reputation Renaissance Theatre are gaining within the town.

Director Mark Evans has yet again managed to create what truly is a theatrical ‘experience’ that cannot fail to impress even the most critical of theatre-goers.

Musical Director Andy Gill also needs special mention for enriching the experience with his high quality group of musicians and also for leading the cast to give such rich vocal performances.

With proceeds of the show going to St Michaels Hospice, Renaissance Theatre continue to remember two wonderful friends, and what better fitting tribute could there be?